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Frances Williamson

On December 13, 1894, the Reno Evening Gazette published a letter by Frances Williamson entitled "The Question of the Hour." She wrote in part:

    "It affords me great satisfaction to comply with your request, and to give my humble views on woman suffrage through the columns of your valuable paper. You have taken a step in the right direction, and at a most opportune time. It is my opinion that the much abused question has been discussed and agitated throughout the length and breadth of this fair land long enough. Therefore, its solution depends more on the action of legislative bodies-they are the proper tribunals before which to test conclusions by pro and con arguments. Now is the acceptable time for the women of Nevada to act in concert, by organizing leagues and studying the question from a constitutional standpoint; then we will be prepared to centralize our intellectual best in behalf of political enfranchisement.

    Let us prove to our country-women that we of the far, far West, who braved the dangers, endured the hardships and privations of pioneer life, live in an atmosphere of progressiveness, and are ever ready and willing to fall in line with the forward march of the most approved theories and ideas. ... From the present outlook, it is reasonable to hope that every member of the incoming Legislature will remember that his mother was a woman, and his quarter-master for many long years, and she withheld from him no privilege, no advantage that tended to promote his future well-being. The crisis is at hand which will test his gratitude to his earliest and best guardian."

Her letter went on to list all of the battles fought by other disenfranchised Americans and the battles they had won. It also listed the arguments against woman's suffrage:

    "Well, of what crime have the women of Nevada, or the women of every other State in the Union, except two, been convicted, that they should be held disenfranchised citizens?"

She listed her response:

    "None whatever except it be those anticipated crimes so vivid in the imagination of the remonstrants, who claim, that if equal political rights be granted to women the home would become a howling wilderness of neglected children; the men would be doomed for evermore to wear undarned socks and buttonless shirts, and the women would become more formidable, and more dreaded than the seven-headed Hydra of the ancient Peloponesus, all because she would have to vote once or twice a year, at school and municipal elections and once in two years at the general election.

    Others claim that politics is a corrupt institution and it would degrade women to have associations therewith.....in those institutions where woman's influence is equal or nearly so, there is held a perfect equilibrium between good and evil, but in that institution where woman is excluded, the evil dominates.....women do not need politics so much as politics need them.....In conclusion, let those who think women have not a constitutional right to vote read the constitution in the spirit of the fathers who wrote it.....and when this light shines on their innermost conscience there is not a remonstrant man or woman in this fair land, or in the State of Nevada who will not blush vociferously to think that they ever opposed woman suffrage."

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